The water cooler conversations about unwritten rules in sports are always guaranteed to rile some folks up.
Not that long ago, back in mid-May, the focus was on baseball as White Sox player Yermin Mercedes swung at a 3-0 pitch while his team enjoyed a big 15-4 lead over the Twins. Minnesota had a utility player pitching at the time and Mercedes' whalloped the ball for a home run. Social media and sports talk shows went wild about how Yermin had broken an unwritten rule of the sport in, not only swinging at a 3-0 pitch up a bunch, but the Twins having a utility player on the mound throwing meatballs in the high 40's made it all that much worse.
Each sport has their unwritten rules, and one may have popped up for football during last night's game between the Ravens and the Broncos.
Up 23-7, with time running out, the Ravens decided not to take a knee with their final snap, and instead Lamar Jackson took a quarterback sweep around the left side for a five yard gain.
But why? Cameras caught Broncos head coach Vic Fangio, whose team had used up all of their timeouts in a last-ditch effort to score on their last possession, visibly upset at the decision to not kneel and to run a play, ripping off his headset and swearing as the final snap played out and he yelled for his defensive backs to move up.
While you could technically argue whether Harbaugh knew it or not, there was a record on the line. They needed three yards, and got five.
The Ravens had an impressive streak of 42 games with 100 yards rushing going into the game, but on their final possession, with the time running out they found themselves three yards short of the tying the record of 43 games of 100 yards rushing set back in the late 1970's set by the Steelers.
From the outside, it certainly seems like the decision was meant as a last-ditch effort to keep that record intact, and the Broncos burning their timeouts to score some meaningless style points on their last possession probably weighed into that call as well.
At his presser today, Fangio (who previously worked with the Ravens from 2006-09 including that last season as the linebackers coach during Harbaugh's first few seasons as head coach) was asked if he was surprised at decision to not kneel the ball, and fired off a zinger in the direction of John Harbaugh.
“Yeah I thought it was kind of bullshit. But I expected it from them. 37 years in pro ball and I’ve never seen anything like that. But it was to be expected and we expected it."
Why did they expect it?
“I just know how they operate. That’s just their mode of operation there. Player safety is secondary," Fangio added.
I can follow Fangio's logic on a lot of this, but snapping the ball with 3 seconds left should be no more dangerous than doing the same thing midway through the second or third quarter. He simply lost me there.
See his full comments below.
Is kneeling in that type of situation an unwritten rule in football? I think it's a common courtesy, but I, personally, would never expect an opponent to. Thoughts?